Game 60: Red Sox at Houston Astros (June 3, 2018)

The Red Sox provided a great end to the weekend. Sunday was pretty great: the weather was awesome, I got to spend the afternoon coaching my son's travel team in their doubleheader, we got to meet Patriots legends Adam Vinatieri, and my daughter's travel team won a medal for winning their bracket at their tournament. We had dinner, watched some of the Women's College World Series, and then the Red Sox finale against the Astros. Again, no Mookie and no Pedroia, but it would prove to be no problem as the Sox offense exploded and they picked up a hard fought split.

The Red Sox momentum from the night before carried over as they got on the board first again when Mitch Moreland crushed a ball over the center field fence with Andrew Benintendi on base in the top of the first to stake them to a quick 2-0 lead. The always dangerous George Springer answered with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the inning, but Benintendi answered with his own solo homer in the fifth to make it 3-1 Red Sox. Brock Holt, who has done a nice job over the last couple of weeks, stayed hot with a 2-RBI triple in the sixth before he was driven in by Blake Swihart and just like that, the Sox were up by five runs. Alex Bregman has hurt Boston in this series and he did it again when he knocked two in with an RBI single in the seventh, but that was all Houston would get as Holt drove in another in the eighth. Heck, even recent call-up Sam Travis contributed, driving in Sandy Leon and Xander Bogaerts with a two-RBI single in the ninth. It got a bit tense in the bottom of the ninth when Heath Hembree walked two batters in a row, but he managed to survive and closed out the win without giving up any runs (like I always say, no lead is safe from Hembree). While the Yankees were rained out yesterday, the win still kept the Sox in second place since they’re 0.002 percentage points behind the Yankees having played six more games than New York thus far. The quirks of a long baseball season...

It's been great to see the Sox offense produce in the absence of Betts. Benintendi has been carrying a lot of the load and he went 2-5 with an RBI and two runs scored, but just about everyone contributed. Boston had fifteen hits while Houston only had five, and everyone chipped in apart from JD Martinez (who left the game in the ninth with what looked to be tightness in his back...concerning...) and Jackie Bradley (three strikeouts...I hope he's not reverting back to his early season form!). Bogaerts went 2-5, Holt was 2-4, Travis, Leon, and Swihart all had a hit, and Moreland and Eduardo Nunez both went 3-4. And I haven't even talked about the pitching yet...Rick Porcello went 6.1 innings, striking out five and walking two. All five Houston hits were off of him and he gave up three runs (two of them earned). Matt Barnes and Hembree kept Houston hitless for the final 2.2 innings of the game. With no need to use Kimbrel and an off day Monday, he should be fresh and ready to go when the Sox start their next series against the Tigers.

All in all, a successful series against the Astros which showed all of us that the Sox are for real and will be a contender to be reckoned with all season.